I’ve historically done very well on Thanksgiving. I’ve went a perfect three-for-three in many years. I can’t promise that will happen this season as Thursday games are the bane of my existence. It’s becoming a gimmick at this point.
There are quite a few double-digit point spreads this week. We will see more and more of those as teams start to drop out of playoff contention.
Can I win a damn Thursday game? Let’s do this!
We pick ever NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (+3) – My pick is Minnesota Vikings
The Lions beat the Vikings 14-7 in Minnesota in early October. Vikings QB Case Keenum just took over as the starter and the team has grown a lot since then. One huge difference is that Keenum realized WR Adam Thielen exists. He’s been hitting on often the last two games with a lot of success. Also, it helps that WR Stefon Diggs is healthy again. The last time they played, Lions RB Ameer Abdullah had 94 yards rushing…that isn’t happening again. That might be the most rushing yards the Vikings defense has given up all season. The Lions are very underrated coming in winning three-straight, but they aren’t getting much respect due to the competition they faced during their streak. The Vikings are on a different level than the Packers, Browns and Bears. I’m taking the Vikings to cover on Thanksgiving.
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys (+1) – My pick is Los Angeles Chargers
It appears that the Cowboys offense lives and dies on the health of left tackle Tyron Smith. They’ve only scored a total of 16 points in the two full games he missed. He says he will be good to go by Thursday, but we will see. He will need to be 100% since the Chargers have the best pass rush in the NFL. Chargers QB Philip Rivers will need to be efficient and avoid turnovers. I expect he will have a lot of short passes that could open up WR Keenan Allen. I don’t trust the Cowboys right now and I fear Smith won’t be completely healthy, so I’m taking the Chargers.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-7.5) – My pick is Washington Redskins
The Redskins really crapped the bed last week. They looked like they had the game locked up against the Saints, but New Orleans QB Drew Brees came back and lead the team to a win in overtime. Maybe the Redskins were a bit shell-shocked from RB Chris Thompson breaking his leg, because that’s the only thing that makes sense. Washington will miss Thompson in the passing game, but they are just as good (or better) with RB Samaje Perine. Also, the Redskins receivers are getting better with Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder getting more involved. The Giants won a butt-ugly game 12-9 against the Chiefs last week. Neither team was effective and I don’t credit superb defense. The Redskins are figuring things out on offense and if Giants WR Sterling Shepard fails to play again, Washington may not have to score too many points to cover this spread.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (+3) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
Neither team is very good on defense, so if an offense is sharp, they could run away with this game. That’s what happen the first match-up. The Titans won 36-22 at home by scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter. The Colts looked great the first three quarters, but the Colts front-seven got tired. The Titans tired them out by ramming running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry at them all game. The gameplan will be similar and I see the outcome being the same, so I’ll take the Titans to cover.
Carolina Panthers at New York Jets (+4.5) – My pick is Carolina Panthers
I was so anti-Panthers early this season. They couldn’t move the ball well, QB Cam Newton was losing targets to injury and running the ball was near impossible. Well, TE Greg Olsen is returning this week, they ran for almost 300 yards last week and Newton threw four touchdowns. The Jets have a lot going for them as well since they have done well against the spread. The addition of Olsen is a coup for Carolina. I have to take the Panthers to cover on the road.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-10) – My pick is Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Falcons will probably win this game, but the spread is just a couple points too high. The Bucs won two-straight games and haven’t really been getting blown out. They lost to Minnesota, Carolina and New Orleans by more than double-digits, but that’s it. Atlanta is good, but their offense hasn’t been lighting the world on fire. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan has been doing just enough and their running game is above average, but they aren’t putting up crazy numbers to live up to this double-digit point spread. The Falcons did go to Seattle and win, but they were without both CB Richard Sherman and S Kam Chancellor, plus Seattle’s running game is a mess. They are getting a little too much dap for that win. I have to take the points.
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are money right now. They have scored at least 26 points in all but one game this season. The trade deadline deal to acquire RB Jay Ajayi from Miami will one day be seen as the best trade of the season. Philly was already moving the ball on the ground with success, so adding Ajayi was just the rich getting richer. I fear this spread ‘might’ be a few points too high only because they have been staying in games. They haven’t lost by more than 14 points since late-September. I guess they haven’t played a team as good as the Eagles during that stretch. I would love this spread if it were around ten points, but I’ll still take the Eagles to cover.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-10) – My pick is Buffalo Bills
I want to make it clear that this pick is predicated on the Bills starting QB Tyrod Taylor over rookie Nathan Peterman. As I said last week, I hate, hate, hated the move to bench Taylor. It was a disaster and Peterman threw five interceptions in a hurry. Once Taylor relieved him, it was business as usual. He threw a touchdown, ran for one, but the Bills were already in a huge hole. The Chiefs are coming off a 12-9 loss to the Giants. It was an ugly game and the prospects of them turning in an offensive masterpiece a week after that is slim. I have to believe Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott has enough sense to start Taylor. If he does, I’m taking the points.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-16.5) – My pick is New England Patriots
Man, I really hate betting on spreads this big in the NFL. I just hate Miami right now. It looks like their QB Jay Cutler may not play due to a concussion and will start QB Matt Moore if he can’t go. I have faith in Patriots QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick that they will keep Miami in check. They have covered in their last five meetings at home against the Dolphins. Also, Miami is 0-3-2 ATS in their last five games. Has Vegas finally caught up to Miami? I still think there’s still a few points off, so I’m taking the Patriots to cover this huge egging point spread.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-8) – My pick is Cincinnati Bengals
These two teams faced each other in early October and the Bengals beat the Browns 31-7. Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton had his best game of the season completing 25 passes on just 30 attempts for 286 yards and four touchdown passes. Cleveland QB DeShone Kizer was benched for Kevin Hogan late in the game. The Bengals nearly played the perfect game in their win (except RB Joe Mixon was pretty bad for Cincinnati). Not a lot has changed for either team since that game. Cleveland still hasn’t won a game and I don’t see it happened on Sunday. I’m taking the Bengals to cover.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (+7) – My pick is San Francisco 49ers
It doesn’t appear that the 49ers will be starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo this week. 49ers GM John Lynch sees him as a long-term piece and ‘they don’t need him right now.’ If that is the case, QB C.J. Beathard will get the start against Seattle. He’s played a lot better than expected since settling into the starting role. He actually had a 123.4 passer rating against the Giants. Seattle has lost two of their last three games. Also, they haven’t won by more than a touchdown since their 46-18 drubbing of the Colts in early-October. The Seahawks are getting killed by injuries and the Niners are coming off a bye week. I don’t like how this lines up for Seattle. The Seahawks may still come out of the Bay Area with a win, but I don’t see them covering the spread, so give me the points.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (-5) – My pick is Denver Broncos
This is an unpopular pick. A lot of people are hitting Oakland hard, but why? They are below on offense and they haven’t beat a team by more than five points since the second week of the season. Oakland played in Mexico City last week, that trip is longer than people realize. Denver is starting QB Paxton Lynch, which will inject some life in their offense. He’s elusive and should give Denver’s defense better field position. I believe that is what was killing the Broncos defensive metrics. The Raiders are getting by on reputation and I don’t see them living up to it, so I’m taking the points.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
THE BLAINE GABBERT REVENGE GAME! I’m joking, but it would be funny if he went off against his old team. I HIGHLY doubt that will happen. The Jags secondary may eat him up alive. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey will blanket WR Larry Fitzgerald all game. I don’t foresee Gabbert scoring points just hitting Arizona’s slot receivers and relying on RB Adrian Peterson, who is hitting a wall. I’m taking the Jaguars to cover on the road.
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) – My pick is New Orleans Saints
This should be the game of the week. I was on both team’s bandwagon until last week. The Rams were humbled and schooled by the Vikings in their 24-7 loss. The Vikings just wore them out and Minnesota was unstoppable in the fourth quarter. Rams QB Todd Gurley had one of his worst games as a pro. He did manage to get in the end zone, but he average just a tick above two yards per carry. It didn’t help that QB Jared Goff lost his #1 target in WR Robert Woods to a shoulder injury. The Rams still have plenty of targets for Goff, but the Saints defense is damn good. The Rams had trouble against the Redskins early in the season and they have a similar offense to the Saints. Washington’s offense ran through their backfield in that game. The Rams are going to get a ton of running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. That backfield tandem is dangerous as hell. The Saints should cover on the road.
Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
Ugh, I hate that I’m taking three double-digit point spreads this week, but the match-ups just dictate the picks. The Packers aren’t very good without QB Aaron Rodgers. Brett Hundley is careless with the ball and the offense just goes nowhere. The Steelers haven’t been a high-scoring offense and last week was the first time they scored more than 30 points in a game. They forced four interceptions and QB Ben Roethlisberger threw four touchdowns for the first time this season. They will need a similar performance by their defense to cover this spread. I would love this spread if it were a few points lower, but I don’t trust Hundley to lead this team.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-7) – My pick is Baltimore Ravens
The Texans finally got their first win this season with QB Tom Savage as their starting quarterback. He wasn’t so wild last week and completed 22 passes on 32 attempts for 230 yards. Houston ran the ball 34 times, which is a big change from previous games. Unfortunately for Houston, they will be without RB D’Onta Foreman who tore his Achilles last week. The Ravens are coming off a shutout victory over the Packers. Their pass defense is one of the best in the league. They lead the league in interceptions. They are the polar opposite of Houston who made Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert look like a competent NFL quarterback. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco should have a good game against Houston’s porous secondary. Savage will have a hard time duplicating last week’s numbers. I’m taking Baltimore to cover at home.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob